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Advising clients on appearance: ethical tensions and pragmatic approaches

Yates, J. ORCID: 0000-0001-9235-564X (2021). Advising clients on appearance: ethical tensions and pragmatic approaches. In: Broadbridge, A. & Saunders, E. (Eds.), The Impact of Appearance on Career Development. . Bradford, UK: Emerald.


The impact of appearance on career development is well documented. We know with some certainty that those blessed with good looks, a sense of style and a winning smile have an advantage at all stages of the job application process, and throughout their careers, with the most aesthetically pleasing being more likely to be given jobs, higher salaries and promotions (Baert & Decuypere, 2014; Toledano, 2013). What then should those who offer careers advice make of this? Should careers advisers, coaches, HR professionals and line managers, be advising their clients and employees on how to improve their looks? At one level, the answer to this question seems obvious: if the advisers know it can make a difference, of course they should try to help their clients to look more professional or better appropriate for the role, to give them every chance of success in their chosen field. But on closer inspection, this assumption is fraught with challenges. How far should the practitioners go? How can one give advice without causing offence? And most crucially, how could this tacit support of an arguably unfair and superficial value system be justified? In this chapter I will explore some of these issues, drawing on research conducted with career advisers, counsellors and coaches and will offer some practical guidelines for all those who might find themselves tempted to offer advice.

Publication Type: Book Section
Additional Information: This author accepted manuscript is deposited under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC) licence. This means that anyone may distribute, adapt, and build upon the work for non-commercial purposes, subject to full attribution. If you wish to use this manuscript for commercial purposes, please contact
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
[img] Text - Accepted Version
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